Mexico applauds U.S. Senate's progress on immigration reform

The Mexican government on Thursday applauded the U.S. Senate's progress on legislation that would help many of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States obtain legal status and citizenship.

The Senate was reviewing a compromise proposal that would require illegal immigrants who have been in the United States for two to five years to return home briefly and re-enter as temporary workers. They could then begin seeking citizenship.

Illegal immigrants who have been in the United States more than five years would not be required to return home. Those in the country less than two years would be required to leave without any assurance of returning, and then join others seeking entry papers.

Mexico's Foreign Secretary issued a statement Thursday calling the compromise proposal "an important step in the establishment of new mechanisms that will allow safe, orderly migration between the U.S. and Mexico that respects human rights."

Mexico is "completely convinced" the solution must be met by both countries, the statement said, reports AP.

According to San Francisco Chronicle , the Senate reached an extraordinary and fragile bipartisan agreement today on a sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration law that would grant a chance to permanent residence for illegal immigrants who have been in the country longer than five years -- an estimated 7 million people.

Those who have lived in the country illegally between two and five years would have to report to a port of entry to apply for a visa, but also would receive a chance at permanent residence, along with their families. Officials estimate about 5 million illegal immigrants would fall into that group and -- if the Senate's legislation passes and becomes law -- they would have three years to apply for the new visa.

More recent arrivals would have to return home and apply for visas, but they would have the authorization to travel across the border that they lack now.

Final details continued to be worked out by senators and their aides with votes expected on the immigration legislation today and Friday.

New Mexico Business Weekly informs, the U.S. Senate is closer to reaching an immigration reform bill.

Senate Republicans and Democrats reached a last-minute compromise Thursday on legislation opening the way to legal status and eventual citizenship for many of the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, R-NM, voted to permit the Senate to continue debating the issue.

"I agreed to this compromise because the Senate needs to make progress on a comprehensive border security and immigration reform package. ... Obviously, this bill as a whole needs more work. ... We can't have guest worker reform without border security," he said.

O.Ch.